Foreign students and workers in Canada who apply for permanent residence at the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo may be taking a big risk.
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These applicants are usually well settled and adjusted here.
They may have friends, relatives, a home, a career and all of the other hallmarks of having a "life" here. It’s understandable that they don’t want that life disturbed in any way.
They know that they are required to submit their application for permanent residence to the designated Canadian visa post in or near their country of nationality. They also know that if they are in possession of a work permit or study permit with a validity of at least one year, they may instead file their application at our consulate in Buffalo.
Many are convinced that they have so many points that Buffalo won’t even need to interview them.
So they submit their application and wait between 19 and 39 months, or more, for their application to be processed.
They are often surprised to get a letter scheduling an interview in Buffalo. Disappointed but determined, they then enquire about getting a visa to the United States where they plan on spending a day off school or work nailing their application.
They soon learn that the average wait time for an interview at the U.S. consulate in Toronto for a visitor visa to the U.S. is 42 days and that expedited appointments in such circumstances are "generally unavailable."
If they are lucky enough to get an interview with the U.S. authorities in time for their date with destiny in Buffalo, these interviews don’t always go well.
The usual reasons for refusal are that the applicant does not have sufficient ties to his/her "home" country. Refused applicants are puzzled as to how they should be expected to have such ties when they have been living in Canada for the past several years.
The reason is simple: The Americans have no idea whether the application for permanent residence to Canada has any merit.
It’s possible that the applicant goes to Buffalo for a day and is told that his application for permanent residence is refused. Accordingly, the applicant may decide not to return to Canada where he now has no future.
In fact, there is no assurance the Canadians would even allow him to return in even if his/her study or work permit remains valid. Unwilling to return to his home country, he may be tempted to remain in the U.S., with or without status.
Attempts to get Canadian officials in Buffalo to waive the interview or to intervene with their American counterparts in these circumstances are likely to fall on deaf ears.
Buffalo will likely insist on the interview failing which the application will be refused.
This will result in the wasting of two or three years and the need to file again in their home country and start all over again.
What a waste!
Guidy Mamann practises law in Toronto at Mamann & Associates and is certified by the Ontario Law Society as an immigration specialist. Hear him live each Sunday morning at 11 on Toronto’s AM640. Reach him confidentially at 416-862-0000 or at email@example.com.